There is a little history to this trip. It’s similar to a vacation my family took when I was younger – in fact we visited some of the same places as I had as a kid a couple of decades ago. I wanted Lorelei to have a similar experience, and also Brad who had never been to western Oregon. We attempted to take this trip a few years ago, but something came up so we had to put it off. I’m glad that it was delayed, I don’t think Lorelei would have gotten as much experience if she were a few years younger.
Day 1: Our goal was to get from Twin Falls, Idaho to Portland, Oregon. The drive wasn’t too bad – until we got closer to Portland and we had some rain, light and heavy, occasionally. It reminded me of driving in northern Idaho. Also as we approached Portland I realized we could make a few stops and there were some attractions coming up.
As we passed John Day Dam, we decided we’d get out at the next one and check it out. That would be the The Dalles Dam.
It was… a let down to say the least. There were some nice displays and a camera feed showing the fish making their way through the ladders but nothing really cool. It was henceforth know as ‘that damn place’. What we did learn was that we really wanted to stop at the Bonneville Dam. It was on the way so we headed there next.
After a quick search of our car we were let onto the Bonneville Dam grounds. We could choose to go to the the locks where the boats make their way through, or head to the main area and try to catch the tour. Tour it was, plus it was raining so something inside sounded good. This was a much better stop. After a short presentation on how dams create power, we were guided over to the first building we we could see the generators. We also learned that if you happen to go over to the Washington side of the damn, that tour allows you inside a generator to see and touch all the components.
We also watched the fish climb the ladders.
We bought Lorelei an umbrella and squished some penny’s while we waited for the rain to let up so we could run to the car. Confused about the penny squishing? Check out pennycollector.com. We collect these where ever we go – they are an easy inexpensive souvenir that is easy to store and kind of fun to find and do.
Next up, Multnomah Falls (not to be confused with Klamath Falls – which it often is). The rain let up just long enough for us to trek up to the bridge and get some nice photos.
Note the wusses in our group with the umbrellas. (of course while I type this I’m in bed with a horrible cold so… yeah)
After stopping outside of Portland for dinner, we headed to our hotel. I booked a couple of nights at a nice hotel downtown. We learned that we arrived just in time for the Annual Rose Festival and Parade. And that with the street closures our car would be unavailable from 8am to 2:30pm. My initial plan was to use Portland’s public transit system, but because of the parade and activities there would be delays and confusion. We decided to get up early and get the car out of parking to head to the zoo.
Day 2: With the Parade looming we got up early and freed the car from the parking garage. Since we had a few hours to kill, we did some exploring and checked some of the bridges and the waterfront.
We noticed more streets getting closed down in preparation for the parade – so it was time to get out and head to the zoo. We still got there a little early, so we checked out the Children’s Museum. It was a nice hands on discovery center – but geared for younger kids. We did enjoy playing with the giant “Light Bright” style display.
Off to the Zoo! The Oregon Zoo has to be one of the nicest zoo’s we’ve ever been to. It’s large (took us about 6 hours to get through) and the animals are kept in large displays that offer many views. It was a cloudy and cool day – almost cold. But we really enjoyed our time there. Enjoyed it so much that we didn’t get too many photos! But here are a few…
I honestly didn’t think our feet would allow us to see everything, and Lorelei was getting quite tired – but we saw it all. They had a train ride that took us out and around the forest that was nice – and about 20 minutes long.
At the end of the day Brad’s fitbit calculated that we walked about 7 miles just in the zoo!
Before we headed back to the hotel we decided to check out one of the other buildings in the area of the zoo – the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. This had some fun hands on displays relating to the forests and forestry industry.
We learned a few things there, but we were really tired so back to the hotel. After we found parking, we walked over to Chipotle for dinner, then (after Lorelei promised she wouldn’t complain about her feet hurting) we went to TartBerry for dessert. TartBerry is much like Kiwi Loco but with way more toppings. We managed to walk to the waterfront and check out some of the parade floats that were on display, then headed back to the hotel for the night.
I know we only scratch the surface of all the wonderful things that Portland has to offer. Maybe someday we will head back with a vacation planned just for hanging out in the city and exploring.
Day 3: Also known as “Brad’s Day”. Three air museums and the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Any guesses to which was Lorelei’s favorite stop? That’s right – cheese and ice cream are the kid’s two favorite food groups. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
First stop was the Evergreen Aviation and Space Campus. The whole campus consisted of four buildings – only two of which we visited. We didn’t go the the theater building or the waterpark. Yes, WATERPARK. I didn’t know it was there, I swear. I would have planned for it because it looked like insane fun. See, in the photo below, the airplane on the top of the building – those are water slides coming out the sides.
Brad was like a kid in a candy store when we got to the Aviation Museum building. The Evergreen’s claim to fame is that they house the Hughes H-4 “Spruce Goose”, a prototype airplane that was only flown once. It’s the largest wooden airplane ever built. Brad also got to see some other planes he’d never seen before and he really nerded out when we got to the Space Museum building and saw the SR-71 “Blackbird.”
I highly recommend these museums if you have an aviation buff in the family. Keep in mind that jokes about the B-52 “Love Shack” don’t go over very well.
Next stop was the Tillamook Cheese factory.
There was a self guided tour with displays but the big draw was the observation windows overlooking the packaging department. Or was it all the free cheese samples… yum. Or was it the squeaky cheese curds that were only sold there… yummy. We thought it was fairly busy and noted that to a cashier. We were quickly corrected that it was slow, that on peak days during tourist season there were as many as 5,000 visitors per day (which is more than population of the town of Tillamook). I’m glad we went on a ‘slow’ day.
There were two stores, one more grocery where you could by any dairy product that Tillamook makes plus some other locally produced products. Then the other store was more of a gift shop with lots of fun things. We bought a recycled ice cream bucket to use for beach combing finds. Had some ice cream, squished some pennys then off to our next stop.
Tillamook also has an Aviation Museum. It’s neat draw is that it is housed in a very large wood building that was used during the war to construct blimps. We were late getting there so we only had a half hour to visit, and we made sure to see the Super Guppy.
From there we headed to Lincoln City for the night. On the way there was an overlook where you could see the ocean. I had seen it before as a kid, but I was humbled and impressed by it. Brad was awestruck and impressed with how the view was never ending and uncluttered. Lorelei’s response was classic. “Huh, so that’s the ocean. Can I have another piece of taffy now?”
When we got to the hotel we crossed the street and went to the beach. I got my feet wet in the waves and Lorelei fell in.
Which no, I didn’t not photograph. She was okay, just shocked and cold.
Day 4: We stayed in Lincoln City, and I had planned on everyone getting up early so we could head south along the coast and visit Agate Beach. No such luck. I took advantage of my early morning and practiced yoga with the sounds of the ocean in the background – quite a treat for me. Refreshed and ready to go I kicked everyone out of their beds.
We traveled down the coast and stopped at a few viewpoints and other places of interest.
Our goal for the day was Newport and all it’s attractions. It was a busy day. We walked Agate Beach for a while, seeing some jelly fish on the shore and picking up interesting shells, rocks and wood.
In Newport we first stopped at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. They had lots of exhibits but the coolest thing was the three large aquariums that you traveled through tunnels to view them.
Next stop was one of the attractions I remembered from my childhood visit, which was the Wax Museum. Next was Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. Both were self guided tours through things odd, silly and creepy.
I don’t think Lorelei like those too much – she has too much logical thinking in her for her to really enjoy the cheesiness of attractions like those. We also visited the Undersea Gardens which was basically an aquarium built around a glass bottom boat. They had some interesting fish.
That night at the hotel we learned three things: One, in our haste that morning we left some much needed clothing in our last hotel. Two, we missed an opportunity at Agate Beach to see the dock that had floated over from Japan. Three, none of the rocks we gathered were any form of Agate. Whoops.
Day 5: We began our day backtracking to Agate Beach. While the weather was nice and pleasant the day before, on this day it was foggy and misty. We walked the half mile or so to the dock to get a few photos.
We gathered more interesting rocks and actual agate this time. The walk to the dock wasn’t too bad, but the wind and moisture increased on our walk back. We had to head over to the rest area and change clothes and try to get dry.
We then headed back up the coast to Lincoln City and picked up the things we had left behind. We decided to head to Eugene by way of Florence.
On the way to Florence we visited the Sea Loin Caves. It was a bit of a let down, with the cold gross weather we didn’t get to go down one of the trails and the Sea Lions in the caves were huddled together and napping.
We stopped in Florence for lunch and some window shopping. For lunch we ate at the wonderful Mo’s. Highly recommend – the food is amazing. This was the one meal I knew I was going to be eating gluten – and it was wonderful. I had the fish tacos with clam chowder. The chowder was perfect and had lots of clams and potatoes. The tacos were amazing with the slaw…
…did I mention the butter? There was a pat of butter on the side of the bowl of chowder and the fish tacos had butter in the sauce…oh em gee. Everything was fresh, wonderful and buttery.
Got to Eugene and crashed in our hotel room.
Day 6: First up a visit to the Laundrymat. Not thrilling but necessary. Done with our chore, we headed to the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Another attraction I remember from my childhood. It’s a drive through zoo basically – but the bears and hippos are still in fenced enclosures. You are not allowed to get out of your car, but we did get to see quite a few animals.
This giraffe wasn’t wanting to move away from the fence.
The safari also offered a free Wildlife Park – which is where Lorelei had the most fun. It was a mini-zoo with displays and a variety of animals. Lorelei spent a dollar to get seeds to feed the birds – she got a kick out of that. She got a big laugh out of the bird that landed on me and wouldn’t get off. I didn’t enjoy that experience at all. We also got to see a hedgehog up close and feeds some ducks.
Stayed the night in Grant’s Pass. It wasn’t too busy of a day – just lots of driving.
Day 7: Headed down to the Redwoods in California. Brad hadn’t seen these trees, and I remember seeing this forest as a kid as well. We stopped at a few places to get out of the car and stretch.
It was a good weather day – calm and cool. The attraction we stopped at is the Trees of Mystery. They have trails going through the forest and showcase some of their most wonderful giant redwoods.
It seems like they took out one of the longer and more difficult hiking trails and added what they called a Sky Trail. Basically a gondola that glides you up to the summit of the mountain for some wonderful views.
After that we had time so we stopped at Ocean World in Crescent City, California. This was probably Lorelei’s favorite place we visited. They had a small show with three harbor seals and one sea lion. They had a little routine and some tricks they did – it was super cute and fun. We then took the tour and viewed their glass boat aquarium, pet some sharks, touched some starfish then saw the show again. Lorelei love the Sea Lion – named Cora. Lorelei was disappointed that she didn’t get to pet her. We will have to take Lorelei someplace like Sea World.
Day 8: Headed home. A very long day in the car – we were able to make it to Boise. Our original plan was to visit Crater Lake but with a few of the roads closed and three feet of snow still in the park – we decided to play it safe and not go. We will have to visit there another time.
Day 9: Lorelei and I were really starting to feel crappy from our colds, but we stopped at the Co-Op and the Guitar Center. Last stop was Warming Trend where we got Brad the temperature control until for our Big Green Egg for father’s day. (a review of this until will be posted up at a later date)
Food: With my sensitivity to gluten I was worried about finding things to eat. I made sure to pack things like fruit, nuts and Larabars so I’d always have an option. I do recommend a phone app called Find Me Gluten Free. I used it to find options for restaurants – we ate at a few chain places, and then some wonderful local restaurants as well. I warned Brad that I was going to eat clam chowder – and gluten – once during the trip. I’m glad that I was able to, and glad that I only had gluten once while on vacation. I managed the feat of not only avoiding weight gain while on vacation, but also lost a little. Same with Brad!
Overall: We had a wonderful time and built some great memories! Our next big trip will be in a few years – it will be to California, D.C., or Canada.